How to reduce "Unknowns"

In some instances customers may receive high levels of "verification status: unkown". This doc unpacks why that occurs.

When a verification status is Unknown it means that we're not getting enough data to be able to determine if the user is at the address or not. For obvious reasons, we cannot verify an address if we do not get enough data points to verify that the user is actually at their address. Above all else, verifications actually need to be accurate, so we tend to err on the side of caution to classify something as unknown in these cases. The main reasons for when this may occur are:

  1. the user uninstalls the client app or turns off their phone for the verification period as this makes the background library service no longer send data. With no data we can’t verify if they live there so we’ll classify it as unknown.

  2. Low-end Android phones, particularly on Infinix, Itel or Tecno, tend to turn background services off, force close apps, throttle background services, as well as limit GPS accuracy in order to save battery. This leads them to ship much less data or very inaccurate data points.

  3. The user has not granted location permissions or turns it off after verification has started. i.e. the app is not authorised to access and share their location. If the user only gives permissions "while using the app," then we only get a datapoint when they open the app. This is normally not enough datapoints to verify someone on.

  4. An iOS user does not leave their property. On iOS, we only get data when the app is opened or the user moves outside the geofence. With the rise in working from home, we're seeing an increase in people who only leave their house every few days - especially during the week. On most Android phones we trigger them to send data more frequently but this can result in not enough data from an iOS device.

  5. The user has no data or has turned it off. If they are out of data, or keep their phone in airplane mod during the few days of verification, the device will not send any data to our servers and we will record it as unknown. The same occurs if the users phone is turned off during the period.

  6. The final reason why data may not come though is if the user revokes permissions on their profile in which is something that we provide in order to comply with international data privacy. When they opt out, we retain current information for 5 years for legal reasons but stop collecting more. The opt-out rate is incredibly low.

While we are constantly working to improve our verification services, there are various mitigations in how the system is implemented that can make a large difference in reducing the number of unknowns. Some of these are:

  1. Ensuring to follow our best practices in the location permission prompts and keep your library updated with the latest improvements.

  2. Communicating clearly in the app and onboarding primers on the importance of ensuring that they are sharing location data if during the verification process.

  3. If the use case is a once-off signup or infrequent activity, prompting the user to reopen the app periodically during the verification process will help increase data sent and reduce unknowns.

Note that in most instances of ‘unknowns’, it has more to do with user behaviour than a technical error. The best mitigation for this is to be clear with the users on what verification entails as well as to run a re-verification at a later date if there is not enough data to make an initial determination.